12Oct

The Significance of Customer Loyalty in Business

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, loyalty is continuing to dominate as one of the key tools that businesses can deploy to achieve sustainable success. Loyalty does not automatically mean a loyalty programme and a loyalty programme isn’t right for every business. Achieving high customer loyalty brings many benefits including enhanced brand reputation, happier employees and increased revenues. A loyalty strategy that is driven out of the core values of the business, and embraced by everyone from the boardroom to the customer service team, can pave the way to long-term success.

 

The Foundation of Customer Loyalty

1.1 Defining Customer Loyalty

Customer loyalty needs to be more than just a buzzword in the boardroom or in sales meetings. The data alone can be a tangible asset and, if it is executed correctly, then a loyalty programme can significantly impact a company’s bottom line. Loyalty is more than just sales growth, however. Loyal customers are more likely to refer your business, they are brand ambassadors and their commitment to the brand results in more frequent purchases, a deeper breadth of spend and of course increased revenues.

 

1.2 The Psychological Aspect of Loyalty

Behavioural economics and the psychology of loyalty are such fascinating subjects, and we have lots of other material on these if you are interested. Loyalty has to be a win-win for both parties. The customer must feel valued and have an emotional connection to the brand. This is often driven from shared values, positive customer experiences and a belief that the products or services deliver exactly what the customer is looking for. All of these factors are going to deliver higher frequency, recency and value from clients. This level of excellence in product or service delivery and customer experience is critical to get right first before you even think about a loyalty programme.

 

Driving Sales and Revenue through Loyalty

There are four key areas where customer loyalty drives sales and revenue.

 

2.1 Repeat Purchases

The link between loyalty and repeat purchases has been widely documented across multiple industries both in B2C and B2B over the years. The level of data that you will get from your loyalty programme will allow you to demonstrate the direct impact on sales and revenue and should be used in conjunction with a control group to truly understand the ROI. The visibility of data and trends allows companies to provide more personalised offers, products and services, which in turn strengthens the customer's feeling of being valued.

 

2.2 Increased Customer Lifetime Value

Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a metric that quantifies the total revenue that a business can expect from a single customer throughout their relationship. It stands to reason that a loyal customer would have a higher CLV due to more frequent purchases and increased revenues. This increased CLV contributes significantly to a business’s overall revenue and profitability. Loyal customers who have an emotional connection to the brand are 3 times more likely to have a higher CLV.1

 

2.3 Word-of-Mouth Marketing

There are many intangible benefits that are derived from loyal customers and these can’t always be measured immediately. Loyal customers not only bring in revenue through their own purchases, they also act as unpaid brand advocates. When customers have a positive experience with a business, they are 4 times more likely to recommend it to their colleagues, friends, family, and social networks. Word-of-mouth marketing is not only incredibly powerful in bringing in new customers, it can also generate 25% higher profit margins2 for every referred customer.

 

2.4 Reducing Customer Acquisition Costs

Too often companies focus solely on customer acquisition, constantly filling the leaky bucket, rather than stopping to think about why the bucket is leaking. Acquiring new customers is expensive and time-consuming, involving marketing campaigns, advertising, and promotions. Implementing a loyalty strategy that focuses on customer retention and in turn rewarding those loyal customers for supporting a customer acquisition campaign. By retaining existing customers, businesses can significantly reduce the need for constant customer acquisition, thus allowing them to allocate resources more efficiently.

 

 How Loyalty Can Help In Reducing Costs

3.1 Decreased Marketing Expenses

One of the biggest aversions to starting loyalty that we hear is that businesses don’t have the marketing budget or, if they do, they are too nervous to shift some of that budget from acquisition into a loyalty programme where they are giving away extra margin. Yes, you need to set aside some budget to launch the programme, to reward members and to deploy and maintain the software, but it should still deliver ROI. Knowing more about your customers allows you to use your budget in a more targeted and personalised manner, significantly reducing costs and ensuring you can measure effectiveness of each loyalty campaign you run.

 

3.2 Mitigating the Cost of Customer Churn

Generating customer loyalty will quite obviously reduce customer churn. Loyal customers are much less likely to switch to competitors, as they have already established trust and confidence in the business. Reducing customer churn helps in reducing the need to focus marketing budget on acquiring new customers.

 

3.3 Operational Efficiency

One key benefit of a loyal customer is that they are much more likely to provide you with feedback, good or bad. Often constructive feedback is the most useful and helps a business in developing its offering to suit its existing customers in a way that also helps the business achieve its goals. Using the feedback and data trends and insights gained from a loyalty programme can help to improve operational efficiency,

 

Maintaining Reputation and Mitigating Negative Impact

4.1 Reputation Management

With access to multiple review sites and endless social channels, customers have the ability to share positive and negative feedback, quickly, easily and effectively. Whilst you shouldn’t believe everything you read, negative feedback (whether true or not) can easily damage a brand’s reputation. Loyal customers are much more likely to give feedback directly, thereby allowing a business to make amends.

 

4.2 Brand Advocacy in Times of Crisis

We have all witnessed how a global crisis affected retail and how being able to rely on your loyal customers to either continue to shop with you (or to return as soon as they were able to) was crucial to some business's survival. A crisis can also be a crucial time for a business to prove their support for their loyal customers and the more data that you know about the individual, the more easily you are able to offer them a personalised level of communication, offers and assistance. This doesn’t only apply in the case of a global crisis, businesses often go through periods of change where they may need to rely on their loyal customers for support.

 

The Journey to Long-Term Success

5.1 Sustainable Growth

Relying on short-term gains from new or infrequent customers forces any business to switch focus rather than making sustainable business decisions based on actionable data. Having a long-term view of customer loyalty, where your business is able to identify trends and adapt to the ever-changing needs of its customer base, will lead to more sustainable growth.

 

5.2 Adaptability and Innovation

If you have deployed a loyalty programme as part of your strategy, you will be able to gather masses of actionable data that will allow you to identify areas for innovation. Identifying a select group of customers that can act as early adopters of any new strategy, service or product allows you to reward them for their feedback. This gives the customer a feeling of being valued and makes them a part of the business whilst at the same time as allowing your business to experiment without upsetting its customer base.

This adaptability can be a significant factor in long-term success, especially in rapidly changing industries.

 

5.3 Competitive Advantage

Loyal customers provide a business with a distinct advantage. A loyalty programme can allow a business to differentiate itself from its competitors. Products and services can be copied, but the way a business conducts itself, the way it values its customers, and its employees, and the way it delivers excellence is unique. Businesses with a strong and loyal customer base are less susceptible to the ups and downs of market fluctuations and are better positioned to withstand challenges posed by competitors.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, customer loyalty isn’t something you can ignore; it is a strategic imperative for any business seeking sustained success and growth. Loyal customers contribute to increased sales and revenue through repeat purchases, higher customer lifetime value, and word-of-mouth marketing. Additionally, loyalty helps reduce costs and marketing effort and it also plays a vital role in maintaining a positive reputation and mitigating any negative impact of internal or global crises. Ultimately, a focus on customer loyalty is a path to long-term success, providing businesses with sustainable growth, adaptability, and a competitive edge in the ever-evolving marketplace. In a world where customers have countless choices, businesses that prioritise loyalty will find themselves not only surviving but thriving.

 

Sources:

  1. Zippio
  2. Annex Cloud

 

About the Author

Melanie Parker

Melanie Parker

Stream’s co-founder, Melanie, became the first British woman to become accredited with the CLMP from The Loyalty Academy. Passionate about all things loyalty, Melanie cuts through the technical jargon and gets to the real business issue. Melanie loves to develop engaging digital solutions that appear simple whilst creating long lasting partnerships that add value to all.

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LoyaltyStream Key Features

  • 21 loyalty campaign types to suit every business
  • Options to deploy gamification campaigns such as Spin-To-Win and Prize Draws as well as Badges
  • Ability to track and reward all behaviours from transactions to actions
  • In-depth visual analytics and insights on Campaigns, Members, actions and transactions
  • Customisable CRM and segmentation options to suit your Member profile
  • Scalable modular SaaS platform that can grow with your business

 

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